Commentary: After Dobbs, Christians face a changing landscape and an unchanging Word
This article was orignally written for and published on Post and Courier.
The landscape of the desert is laid bare after a flood. The effects of erosion from wind and water have visible expression in the carved surfaces of vast plains cut by canyons and spires that rise to spectacular heights overhead in the wilderness mountains.
When I lived in Arizona, I came to see that landscape as a revelation of my soul carved and shaped by experiences and decisions, forces of nature and forces of humanity. The landscape of the United States, and ultimately the world, has been shaped by regular access to abortion as part of reproductive decisions and as a form of birth control for almost 50 years. Today, the landscape of American public life has been altered. But our purpose as Christians remains the same.
Whether you agreed with the Roe v. Wade decision or not, you can agree that it has changed the soul of this country. The separation of sexuality from reproduction has changed us. This helps explain both the cries of fear and shouts of elation we hear in a nation coming to terms with that change.
The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn both Roe and Casey is like a storm over the face of the desert. It will alter things in ways we are seeing and will see very soon. Its longer and deeper effects may take decades to become visible.
As a people of faith, we travel through the world, but we are not ultimately to be defined by it. We have agency and choice about who we are to be and what we are to be shaped by. We have agency and choice about what we are to do with the landscape of our time. I would encourage you to be prayerful and still right now. Be sure your foundation is set upon the rock of Christ’s teachings.
We are called to love our neighbors who are in the midst of this flood.
Some people are terrified by what this moment may mean; some are rejoicing that this rain has finally come. But we follow a God whose time is both present and eternal, a God who is with us in the flood and will be with us when the canyons are no more. Do not fear the sound of water or the roar of thunder.
Do not add to the noise. In this present moment, many need our care and attention. How can you love your neighbor today?
We are not called to mimic the world’s point of view, but to ask what the mind of Christ is about this issue. That requires prayer and study and conversation with the body of Christ gathered and listening to the Holy Spirit.
I encourage you to be open to Christian brothers and sisters, to pray and study, and to listen for the Word spoken in unexpected places. Lament with those who lament, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Can you hear the logic of Christ in both?
Notice that I have tried not to use the language of our current political climate. This is intentional. Our language has become partisan and overwrought. As a people of the Word made flesh, we should choose our words carefully.
In the days ahead, I implore you to speak carefully and act thoughtfully. We are Christians of the middle way, centered in Christ and open to all. Love God, and seek wisdom as you reach out in love to others.
Let us hold with Paul, who in his letter to the Romans wrote: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Let’s not let our neighbors be separated either.
I offer a prayer for us as we travel along the way of the cross:
O God of all Creation, who set the Pleiades and Orion in their places and whispers over each blade of grass, “Grow,” we come today to this moment of change asking for your guiding hand and your mercy.
We ask you to guide your church to your own heart, to give us the mind of your Son, and the will to sacrifice our own will rather than force another to sacrifice theirs, by the power of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to guide the leaders of our nation and our states to wisdom and justice.
We ask you to guide us as your people to a peace that is not merely the absence of violence, but the love of neighbor made real, the abundance of care made manifest, and the joining together to a common heart even where we are not of one mind.
We ask your mercy for where we have failed your will for us as ambassadors of peace and embodiments of justice and wisdom and mercy. Forgive us our pride and denigration of others and uncharitable judgments. Restore us by your hand to lives of grace.
Lead us along the narrow path that leads to you and the life eternal, O Shepherd of our souls, and we will follow you all the days of our lives. Amen.
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